Here’s an appropriate quote from the book by it’s author. “This book is not about how horrible the Hamptons have become, not about Hollywood east, hip-hop invaders or Ira Rennert’s mega-mansion in Sagaponack. It’s about a whole other, largely unreported, but quite glamorous life on the East End of Long Island, which centers on work instead of play, and which has produced some of the most important art of our time. The fact is, more than a century after the great maritime painter Thomas Moran built a gabled house and studio on Main Street in East Hampton and became the first artist to make the Hamptons his permanent summer home, and more than fifty years after Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner left Greenwich Village for an unheated farmhouse in the backwoods hamlet called Springs, America’s leading artists are still spending their summers and increasingly their winter too in the Hamptons.” Bob Colacello. Bob mentions the East End and views it a little like I do. It’s not just the Hamptons. This place has a rich artistic and cultural history that the Hamptons doesn’t have.
The book does in appearance focus on the glamorous. Artists can’t help it if they’re glamorous. It comes with the turf. Besides, the photographs are beautiful. And it only hints at what this place has evolved into for artists like myself. But it’s not quite as it seems and there are so many other artists not mentioned in the book. Most of the artists in the book are bright stars in the art universe. I’m not sure why I was in it but I like the fact that I’m considered in this peer group. I’m also not sure how I got on the cover of Long Island Newsday but why not, or that I made the A-List in Avenue On The Beach. When I saw this I jokingly said to Mac Hoak of Mecox Gardens, “There must be another Terry Elkins around here”. Kidding aside I’ve known several of the others on the List for as long as I’ve lived here, some even longer.
I’ve never considered myself glamorous or an art “heavyweight”. The B-List seems more comfortable as many of my friends are there. Sometimes I don’t even consider myself an artist, more like an illustrator. Artists today seem to be pushing the envelope, doing things that I wouldn’t think of or attempt to try. I wouldn’t say my work is that sophisticated either. How chic can a landscape painting be? And my paintings don’t sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars like my peers but they do fetch tens of thousands and yes, I like that. I basically draw and paint from nature and the subject matter I find around me and only occasionally think outside the box although I’m always working on something. I may not be as coveted as my friends on the auction block but my collectors certainly enjoy their pieces and I’ve always got a commission to finish or start on. My print business does surprisingly well also and it reaches an incredibly large audience. However, I feel very much a part of the East End picture. It’s evolved and grown since I arrived and there’s a lot going on in this small but thriving community. There are more openings and shows that one can see on any given weekend during the summer and plenty to do in the winter as well. Thirty years ago when I moved out here it wasn’t this way. Things only happened in the summer. My first winter you wouldn’t see a car parked on the main street at night in Amagansett. The Talkhouse had a half dozen people during the week. Double that on a weekend unless a band was playing. How times have changed!
Trust me though, I’m not as glamorous as the A-List would lead one to believe. I’m not making any fashion statements. My wife corrects my choice of clothes and reminds me to comb my hair before I step out the door. I tend to shy from the scene as much as I can but once I’m out I enjoy it and the friends I see. I also don’t like driving anywhere unless I have to. Driving to Amagansett for an opening, back to Southampton for another one and then home can be a challenge, especially on a summer weekend and who wants to drive 40-50 miles in heavy traffic on a two lane road. I’d rather stay at home and have dinner with family. Unlike a lot of artist friends I haven’t had a one person show in New York City in decades. Maybe that will change one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lamenting the fact that I feel this way. It’s always nice to show up for a friend’s opening or be included in a group show. But I do feel the same as probably every other artist that is successful, it takes a lot of hard work and long hours to create something out of nothing. You need to spend a lot of time alone to get anything done. There have been plenty of evenings in the summer when my friends were getting together and having dinner and I was painting outside until almost 9 o’clock and then I was too tired to go out afterwards. If that’s not enough the summer the sun wakes me up early, usually before 6am. Fortunately I inherited a good work ethic from my father. Those first few years I was here I worked odd jobs to make ends meet and painted at night. Hard work does pay off and it seems like the harder I work the luckier I get. I’m happy to be part of where I live and I thank my lucky stars everyday. I can stop what I’m working on and in five minutes I’m throwing the ball with my dog on the beach. I’m living the dream.